I’ve written about it before, but the Chicago Cubs offense – even sans Kyle Schwarber – is still a deep, dangerous thing.
I turned on the game last night and found them down 3-0, on the bad side of an ongoing no-hitter through 6 innings.
Somebody in the room with me said “I thought you told me the Cincinnati Reds were a bad team.”
I told them “Hang on. The Cubs will win this one.”
Those who know me, know that I’m not a particularly positive person, but there’s something about this Cubs lineup that reminds of the way you felt growing up in Chicago during the 6 Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen-led championships for the Bulls.
Even when the team was down fairly late, you had a feeling of “Sure, but they’ll decide to flip the switch now and come back and beat your ass.”
Sure enough, even though left-handed Brandon Finnegan was keeping guys from getting hits, the Cubs were grinding out long plate appearances and wearing him down.
Watching his shoulders and body language, Finnegan had the composure of somebody was exhausted at the start of that 7th inning. His post-game comments to the press confirmed what your eyes told you.
Though he had that no-hitter coming into the 7th inning, he had also walked four batters and had a pitch count nearing 80.
He retired the first two batters in the bottom of the 7th before David Ross broke the no-no up with a soft hit into left-center.
But the plate appearance before Ross’ single is what really started things in motion.
Although it ended with a strikeout (on a called strike painted on the corner low and away), Addison Russell worked a 7-pitch at bat off of Finnegan.
After Ross singled, pinch-hitter Matt Sczcur drew another Finnegan walk (his 6th of the game) and that was the end of the pitcher’s night.
Jason Heyward followed with a 2-RBI single that made it a one-run ballgame.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 8th where things continued to be not so great for the Reds’ bullpen.
Tony Cingrani walked Ben Zobrist and then threw a pitch that bounced 15 feet in front of the plate before it jumped up and hit Jorge Soler to put two men on with one out.
Then Russell stepped up and did this…
Hector Rondon came on and threw a perfect 9th for the save.
A good start so far for the Cubs closer, about whom there was plenty of the usual unnecessary concerns about meaningless spring training numbers.
Why folks get worried about numbers a guy puts up in games that don’t matter, particularly when it’s put by a player who has a roster spot locked up already, I’ll never understand.
But that’s a topic for another day.
Cubs win, 5-4.
Those two teams are at it again on Wednesday.